Eat The Press

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We thought we'd made it clear. You are either with Si Newhouse, or you breed kittens in Hell for terrorists and demons to eat. Nevertheless, for some media watchers, the launch of Portfolio is going over like the Rockefeller Center Salute to Fireworks.

The New York Post called the Portfolio "empty." Gawker helped us to feel their own visceral, internalized pain by slogging through a review of every single advertisement in the magazine. And we've already noted the Observer's disappointment with Portfolio. In their article, author Michael Thomas proffers the following adjectives: "vapid, glossy, superficial, stale," and, perhaps most devastatingly (or, then again, maybe not), "safe."

But if Thomas seems content to allow Conde Nast's newborn some time to lay in the manger before leading us all to the Promised Land, Dealbreaker's Elizabeth Spiers aims to cut Portfolio off at the knees. In a pointed takedown, Spiers belittles the fonts, wonders why the subjects profiled seem to be as baffled by the business world as a neophyte, laments how the writing seems dumbed down (perhaps due to a chauvinistic opinion on what a presumed-to-be-skewing female readership can handle; cf. Spiers comment on Portfolio's use of Sheelah Kolhatkar: "...Kolhatkar used to work in finance and is probably one of the few people there who can explain it. So it's disappointing that she got assigned such a cliched piece"), and notes an awful lot of instances of the cart beseeching the horse to start pulling.

And all that comes after a worthy rumination as to whether old news plus massive page count plus ginormous budget equals meeting the standard.

Blinged out and dumbed down, in other words? Well, we can't help but notice that the way Duff McDonald is deployed by Portfolio barely hints at the meatiness of his work elsewhere, like in New York Magazine's ninety-part opus on hedge funds. You're not likely to mistake it for Portfolio's Disneyfied "Lifestyles of the Hedge Fund Managers." New York is a weekly publication; Portfolio has been a year and a half in the hopper. We're just saying.

So, how does Portfolio truly define its audience? Maybe Nat Ives, writing for Advertising Age, has got it grokked when he describes an article written for Portfolio by...wait for it, Duff McDonald:

"On pages 284 and 285 of the first issue of Portfolio, which hits New York newsstands today, are a couple of hundred words on Stornoway Diamond CEO Eira Thomas. But this isn't your average mining story, given Ms. Thomas poses for a photo by Ralph Mecke, resplendent in a strapless, shirred, emerald-green silk chiffon gown by Nicole Miller and jewelry by Tiffany & Co. The fashion credits are on page 327."

Dross meets gloss! Sounds like a winner to us!

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